In 1989 Rosa Griffith's husband died, and in 2000 she suffered a stroke. During her rehabilitation, Rosa promised God that when she got better, she would visit people in nursing homes.
She wasted no time. As soon as she could in October 2005, Rosa began volunteering at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital. She still needs a four-prong cane to get around and relies on public transportation to get to and from Levindale, but she never misses a Wednesday. Many people her age are deterred by bad weather, but not Rosa. Shortly after Rosa started coming to Levindale, a 292-bed nursing home and specialty hospital, to visit residents, she met a young man who had suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was bitter and mean to the people closest to him. Rosa spent a lot of time helping him come to terms with his situation. She promised him that as long as she was able, she would always visit him. He has since moved to a new location, and she still visits him every Friday. Rosa is kind and compassionate, but truthful. She doesn't give people false hope nor is she condescending. She is truly comforting and very humble.
Before Rosa completed her first year at Levindale, she was asked if she would be interested in hospice care. Hospice volunteers visit the nursing home residents who have less than six months to live. It requires additional training and, it is often difficult for volunteers. Rosa embraced the idea.
After her training, the staff expected Rosa to continue coming to Levindale on Wednesday afternoons to be with the hospice patients, instead of her usual residents. However, Rosa now arrives at 9 a.m. so she can continue seeing the 20-plus residents with whom she had already established relationships. In her own words, she could not let down the people who were expecting her. In addition, she now has a caseload of 14 hospice patients.
Recently a hospice nurse said that Rosa's most extraordinary talent is her ability to just be with a person. Hospice patients are often unresponsive, so Rosa reads poetry (which she does with the help of a magnifying glass) or the Bible to them. She just wants patients to know that another person cares.
Everyone looks forward to seeing Rosa on Wednesdays, not only the residents but the staff and other volunteers. So far, Rosa has spent more than 500 hours volunteering at Levindale. While the number may not sound like a lot, Rosa is a 79 year old stroke survivor who makes the most of every minute that she is here.